651 556 10.05.2014 ANC supporter dance during ANC siyaqoba celebration outside Luthuli house. Picture:Sharon Seretlo

Johannesburg - The DA might have lost its battle to win Gauteng, but the ANC has emerged from the provincial election bruised.

The ANC experienced a radical decline in its support in the province, dropping by more than 10 percent in the fiercely contested economic hub.

The ANC received 54.92 percent, down from 64.04 percent in 2009.

In contrast, the DA improved from 21.86 percent in 2009 to clinching 28.52 percent of the vote this year.

Despite being a newcomer, the EFF, which also set its sights on Gauteng, managed a 10.26 percent stake of the pie, largely replacing Cope’s presence from 2009.

The Freedom Front Plus saw a slight drop from 1.63 percent in 2009 to 1.27 percent.

The race for Gauteng had been billed throughout the election campaign as a critical one, with voters in the province perceived to be more concerned about some of the scandals that have faced the ruling party in recent times.

These include the contentious issue of the e-tolls and the R250 million upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, among others.

The relationship between the ANC’s provincial leadership and Luthuli House have also not made the campaign any easier for the party and the province remains split in the middle between pro and anti-Zuma factions.

The ANC in Gauteng has also been affected by the “two centres of power” phenomenon, which has seen Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, a strong Zuma ally, heading the provincial government in spite of not enjoying significant support in the province.

The ANC leadership will have to address this issue when its appoints a premier for the province, and speculation is rife that Mokonyane might be reappointed as premier, snubbing chairman Paul Mashatile and provincial secretary David Makhura and protracting the factionalism in the province.

If these provincial results are anything to go by, the 2016 local government elections will prove even tougher for the ruling party, as it appears to have lost significant support in critical areas including Tshwane, Joburg and Ekurhuleni municipalities.

The ANC’s Gauteng leadership said it was pleased with the election results and appreciated the show of continued confidence and a clear mandate for the party to govern the country’s richest province and the continent’s fourth largest economy.

“The overall tally of votes so far show that Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal each contributed about 2.5 million votes out of the 11.4 million ANC won nationally,” the ruling party said, adding that it did not take any vote for granted.

The party described Gauteng as a coveted prize for all parties in Wednesday’s elections.

It has promised to tackle the issues that dominated the feedback received from voters during its campaign.

The party put on a brave face, saying its primary objective of ensuring that Gauteng remains an ANC-governed province, was achieved.

But some of their detractors were not convinced. Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema took a swipe at his erstwhile comrades in the ANC in Gauteng saying they had lost the province “big time” and that in 2016 there would not be an ANC mayor in Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

Malema said the body language of ANC leaders in Gauteng showed they were disappointed and worried about the outcome of the election.

The ANC lost support in the key regions of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, only managing 53.63 percent 50.96 percent and 56.41 percent respectively.

Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana says the DA perfected the strategy of using a regional base as a stepping-stone to regional prominence.

After attaining power in the Western Cape, it sought to expand into other parts of the country.

An attempt that was not in vain, especially in Gauteng, said Ndletyana.

“This election saw the party growing by 11 percent from 22 percent in 2009 to 33 percent. The ruling ANC faces a serious threat from the DA, especially because its majority has dropped dramatically from 65 percent to the low 50s,” Ndletyana says.

Political analyst Susan Booysen said that although the ANC had shown a relentless decline in its numbers, it does not signal a collapse.

“It was a tough campaign for the ANC, conceded among others by the ANC’s Nomvula Mokonyane this week,” said Booysen.

Although the ANC had started campaigning soon after its Mangaung celebration last year, the voters were distracted by the issues facing its leaders, such as Nkandla.

Last night, the IEC, in its briefing where the final declaration of results were made, praised South Africans.

IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula said with 2.2 million more voters this year than the 2009 elections and a 73 percent voter turnout, this year’s election was the best the country had ever had. - The Sunday Independent